Is a Supermoon Really Super?

Is a Supermoon Really Super?

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MOBILE, Ala. -

Each year has a supermoon or several supermoons. It's a newer term to describe what has always happened throughout the ages. "Super" simply means bigger. The moon's orbit around Earth is not a perfect circle. It's more of an ellipse so that when the moon is at it's closest point to Earth (Perigee), astronomically it is called a "supermoon" because the moon appears larger and brighter.

The name "supermoon" might make you think that it is so much bigger than average. In reality, a "supermoon" is about 6% to 7% larger than average. You can also say it is 13% or 14% larger than when the moon is at the farthest point away (Apogee). Many descriptions of a supermoon don't tell you whether the percentage difference is from Apogee or from the average of Apogee and Perigee.

Many people will see or notice a full moon or supermoon at moonrise or moonset. That's the point where your eyes compare the size of the moon to objects on the ground so it will always seem big. Once the moon is high in the sky it will seem much smaller. The moon is actually the same size on the horizon as it is when it is high above your head. Prove this by taking a picture of it when it rises and then several hours later and then comparing the pictures. These astronomical phenomena are separate from weather but the weather controls whether you get to see them or not!

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